Flexible working: flexibility and work-life balance

There may be times when you'd like extra flexibility at work.

This may be to balance your work and home life, to balance multiple jobs, to find time for hobbies or commitments outside work, or because you hold caring responsibilities or are raising a family.  Or you may simply be thinking about leaving us to take full retirement. Click to read about your colleagues experiences of working flexibly Flexible Working - What your colleagues have to say.

We recognise that everyone's needs are different.  You may want to reduce your hours, or change your start and finish times, or work from home some of the time.  If you're 55 or over you may also be able to draw some or all of your pension early to help make flexible working more affordable.

For staff with young families we also offer an on-site nursery (with the option of paying your fees through salary deduction or salary sacrifice) and Childcare Vouchers.

We have guidance available for staff who also have caring responsibilities outside work.

Day to day flexibility

If you just want to manage your  working hours from day to day and week to week in a flexible way, we offer:

As well as being eligible for approved overtime where required, many staff on Grades A to D use flexi-time to manage their normal working hours more flexibly. This scheme involves some flexibility in start and finish times around ‘core working hours’ (when attendance is required) as long as your team and customers are still supported at the right times.  Speak to your manager if you're not sure whether flexi-time operates in your area.

  • Professional contracts

If you're employed on a contract at Grade E or above then flexi-time does not apply, but you have a different type of flexibility in your working time. You are expected to have the professional autonomy to work flexibly.  The full time equivalent of 37 hours per week is treated as a reasonable norm for full time staff;  it isn't a strict minimum or maximum in any single week and you may work flexibly to keep your average hours worked within reasonable limits.  Make sure you've discussed your working arrangements with your line manager or team leader so that they know where you'll be.

  • Start and finish times

Depending on your role, it may be possible to agree with your manager that you'll vary your start and finish times, as long as your office is covered and you're available to support your customers and attend meetings. For example, you could stay full-time but come in earlier in the morning and leave earlier in the afternoon.  You could do this regularly, or just as and when required.

  • Homeworking

Homeworking is doing your job from home - occasionally or regularly.  Not every job can be done from home, but where possible homeworking can eliminate travel time to and from work.  This supports the University’s environmental and sustainable development strategy and may improve productivity and efficiency.   Homeworking may help you to complete particular tasks or special projects.  You may be able to work more effectively on a particular piece of work where concentration is important and to avoid interruptions that are part of the normal office environment.

Ask your manager if you want to consider doing some work from home.  The University is also developing a policy to provide guidance on homeworking.

  • Academic Workloading

The Academic Workloading Framework provides that, in line with the University’s commitment to work life balance, lighter workloads can be considered for newly appointed staff to support their induction and development, and for staff who are returning from a period of leave such as Maternity Leave as part of an agreed plan to support their return to work.

Types of leave

If you need some temporary time off work to cope with a new child or a domestic emergency, we always try to be flexible and supportive, and we have several types of paid and unpaid leave that may help:

Enhanced, paid Maternity, Adoption, Paternity and Shared Parental Leave.

Requesting a block of one or two years' unpaid leave.

Requesting a period of unpaid leave to undertake research, scholarly work or other appropriate study related to an individual’s academic or professional field.  (May exceptionally be paid leave.)

Additional unpaid leave including time off for domestic emergencies; jury service; army reservists, and more.

Flexible working options

You may be thinking about asking to work flexibly on a longer-term basis, perhaps by reducing your hours or changing your working arrangements.  If you know you need some flexibility but you're not sure where to start, speaking to your manager or team leader is a good first step.  Or you can contact your HR Manager to find out what kinds of options may be available. Top Tips for Part Time Workers.

We offer a range of options including:

Asking to work flexibly, and possibly get some of your pension early while continuing to work here.

Asking to move to a 'job-share' arrangement where two people voluntarily share one full-time post.

  • Term-time only contract arrangements

Certain kinds of role don't work over the summer or other holiday periods.  With term-time working an employee works regular hours during school terms but takes time off over school holidays.  This kind of work is common in the educational environments and is often popular with parents of school-age children. 

These are normally roles within Business Services or the library (Student and Learning Support). You can find them as advertised vacancies, or you may wish to discuss what working patterns are available with your line manager.

  • Other kinds of contract arrangements

There are other ways to be flexible in your working pattern. For example, it may be possible to work less than 52 weeks in an academic or support role, reducing your annual work and salary but continuing to be full-time in the weeks you are here.  If you'd like to dicuss possible options you should approach your line manager, with support from your HR Manager, to see what can be accommodated.


Thinking about your retirement

There are various ways of accessing your pension.

  • You may be able to take some of your pension while continuing to work for us (from age 55 onwards) - this is one way to start phasing towards full retirement. This may be known as flexible or phased retirement depending on which pension scheme you are in.
  • If you're thinking about leaving us to retire fully, you may want to take early retirement (from age 55 onwards).
  • Or you may simply want to access your pension at your normal pension age (linked to your state pension age). 

For more about all of these options see our section on Retirement Options, including a comparison of the differences between Early Retirement and Flexible Retirement, and links to the relevant procedures and forms.

Hear from other staff who've worked flexibly

As well as our Top Tips for Part Time Workers, below you can find some testimonials from staff who've been able to agree a flexible balance between their work and their personal life.

Flexible Working - What your colleagues have to say.

This page was published on 2 May 2019

Vikki Hewison, HR Adviser

"When I returned from Maternity Leave I wanted to work flexibly, so I had a chat with my manager and we informally agreed that I would work from 8am to 4pm instead of 9am to 5pm. It means I can avoid the rush hour and manage my childcare flexibly. We're keeping it under review but it's working really well."

Catherine Winn - Business Support Manager, Facilities

"I truly believe the University is an excellent employer, the policies and procedures in place are very much geared in favour of its staff and the flexibility available is second to none. After having my second child I was able to take advantage of the flexible working policy by reducing my hours upon returning from maternity leave. I was able to agree with my line manager a mutually convenient time to return to full time hours".